English and maths learning – resources and tools

We know that the key factors in adults' achievement of good maths and English skills are:

  • the quality of teaching methods and resources,
  • that learners feel their learning is relevant to their working lives, and
  • that there is adequate support for their learning.

Unions have demonstrated repeatedly that they can address all three of these factors.

The resources and tools

The resources and tools have been arranged alphabetically in two lists:

A to L  M to Z

The aim of this guide

Maths and English resources ©unionlearn
Maths and English resources ©unionlearn

Faced with a vast array of options for English and maths learning, how do unions choose the tools that will be appropriate to their needs? Issues of cost accessibility, availability and, of course, quality all need to be considered.

This guidance provides useful and accessible information to union officers, Union Learning Fund (ULF) project managers, learning organisers and union learning reps (ULRs) on tools and resources, and how they can be made use of in workplace learning context.

The aim of this guide is to support unions in making choices that will enable them to engage even more learners. Each resource included appears here because our research, which drew on the experience of key contacts in trade unions that have successfully engaged and supported English and maths learners, indicates that unions have found it useful in some way.

The comments on the resources are, therefore, summarised from the input of practitioners with direct experience of using them in a variety of different workplace contexts.

If you know of useful resources that have been omitted from the guide, this is either because we are unaware of their existence, or because we have had no feedback from unions about their effectiveness.

Please tell us about any resources not included here that you think would be useful for other unions to know about using this online form.

In the course of our discussions we heard about some interesting, creative practices that unions had developed around English and maths learning. These practices provided further proof, if it were needed, of unions' uniquely innovative responses to the challenges around learner engagement, learning support and provision of learning materials. In our view, they deserved a mention in their own right, so we have included some very brief details within this guide, following the resources section.

E = English resources M = Maths resources
F = Free FS = Can be used to prepare for Functional Skills assessments
ER = Engagement Resources LSR = Learning Support Resources that can be used to supplement course work or tutor-led sessions
IA = Initial Assessment tool ULR = Recommended for ULRs to use/signpost learners to
LC = Recommended for Learning Centre staff or tutors with experience of supporting English and maths learners.

Trade unions tackling English and maths

Trade unions continue to play a key role in engaging adults in English and maths learning. Through collective bargaining, unions persuade employers to acknowledge the importance of good basic skills in the workplace.

Given the diverse workplaces that unions organise in, there will always be different factors to be considered and strategies to be adopted. We have compiled some examples of unions working with English and maths learners that might be instructive and inspirational for others.


We are grateful to the following for sharing their experience to enable us to compile this guidance:

Andy Taylor, Aegis

Vikki Botham, Britannia Staff Union

Paul Dovey, CWU

Nicky Volley and Gareth Williams, POA Learning

Emma Lipscombe, Martin Russo and Jon Tennison, UNISON

Jeff Latham and Judith Swift, URTU

Martin Bamford, USDAW

Shazia Shahid, Workers’ Educational Association